Subject: Re: Pro Serve Revenue for FSB
From: Rich Bodo <rsb@ostel.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 00:26:14 -0800 (PST)

Doug,

The type of FSB that best matches your description would be one that
develops, maintains, sells, and supports FOSS, and derives most of
it's revenue from said support.

Support, in this context, is a small subset of service.

I get the feeling that a lot of people view an FSB as a business that
sells a bunch of bits on CD that could just as well be downloaded,
with the option of phone or e-mail support on the side.  That's a
pretty limited subcategory of even the category mentioned above.

A more common type of FSB just leverages the free software development
model in some or all of the software that it develops, and offers a
complete solution to some problem.  Service here is a key component of
the solution, maybe an indespensible component, maybe the largest
component.

I don't think I can get away with this without some examples:

A TiVo is a solution that uses some free software, but it doesn't
leverage the free software development model for every line of code.
They contribute to the free software domain.  They offer considerably
more than a chunk of free software and some service.  The service,
however, is the key component.  I can do all the rest with the Linux
box on my desk.

Another common FSB might be a business that sells something like a
call center, with hardware, software (not all of it necessarily free
software), training, support, and possibly customization.  It's a
complete business solution that happens to leverage a FOSS dev. model.
The characteristics of the support offering have to be there, and may
be what the customer drops the largest chunk of change on, but
everything else has to be there too.

Another common FSB might be a web ASP who uses free software to run
their core web-based services.  They may contribute heavily to the
free software domain, but keep their application proprietary.  ASP's
are service companies.  This type of company sort of bands together
with other developers/ASP's out there to create an open platform that
they can all develop their business on.

I get the feeling when Tim speaks of service in the context you
mentioned he is thinking more along the lines of an ASP than a
small support/development shop.

-Rich

Rich Bodo | rsb@ostel.com | 650-964-4678